Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farm Internships in Ontario

The better half and I want to start our own farm, this is our dream (or a part at least!). The thing is that we both have limited experience--his being from when he grew up on a small farm, and mine limited to gardening and horses--so we would really need to get more experience to have this come to fruition, that is if we're smart about it.

Lucky for us there is a wonderful organization called Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in Ontario (CRAFT Ontario). Here is a blurb from their webby:

If you’re ready for a full, hands-on experience that will immerse you in ecological farming then you’ve come to the right place. In this website you’ll find everything you need to apply for a full-season farming internship that could launch your organic farming career.

CRAFT Ontario is your gateway to a farming internship experience that will change your life. Maybe your dream is to have your own organic farm one day. Or maybe you want to learn some food-growing and hands-on skills that can be applied in other careers and lifestyles. Whatever your long term goals are, a farming internship is a powerful experience that will equip you with the tools and insights to make a real difference in the world. You’ll never be the same again!

Many former CRAFT interns go on to have their own organic and ecological farms. Others pursue careers and lifestyles that promote sustainability and ecological renewal in other ways.

They divide the service areas into different regions, called nodes, and right now there are only a handful of farms in our area, and one in our immediate area that are participating. Recently Eat Local Sudbury received funding to start up a program called Farm Alliance, and the program is mandated to increase the amount of new farmers in Northern Ontario and have partnered up with CRAFT Ontario to do this. So hopefully we will see more host farms in the area soon!

We have not applied to any farms yet, as we are 'window shopping', and I have come to find that it is so hard to narrow it down to even 10! We can apply to more than one, so we do have that on our side.

There are farms that teach Permaculture, fruit growing, beekeeping, cheese making, milking, raising heritage breeds of livestock, marketing, growing veggies, greenhouse management, seed saving, preserving food, ploughing with horses and oxen, and a whole slew of other things.

With a bit of luck, this time next year I will be blogging here after a long day's work on one of these farms.




Bek said...

Wow that sounds like quite an opportunity! What a good idea. Although I think wwoofing is a great thing, the internship sounds like a solid, secure base for learning all you need to know. Let us know the outcome of your browsing! ;)

nefaeria said...

Thanks Bek! If I was a bit younger (and perhaps single), I would definitely love to give wwoofing a spin!

Alas, I think any travelling I would do at this point would be as a tourist and not as a nomad. ;)

So, you are right about the internship model. Although as a part of the program interns take 'field trips' to other farms for education and projects to work on, so we would get to see other operations!

I will definitely up date you once we have decided, but I am quite keen on working applying to a farm in my immediate area.

Anonymous said...

more organisations should be doing this!

Bek said...

Yeah, well put - it's a lot easier for young, single people to wwoof! :D

That's why this sounds like a great idea. It's also got the practical side well covered. I like your thoughts on working with local growers. :)

nefaeria said...

Anon: I couldn't agree more!

Bek: Why thank you. :) I have a bit of an update on prospects:

It looks like the farm that was my first choice is not going to be doing internships next year (bummer!) but we still have plenty of choices to go through. I do hope that more folks open up their farms in my area to host internships.